398 HISTORY OF PERSIA CHAP. and the Afghans would have been invited to join in the looting of India. Had the scheme ever taken practical shape it must have ended in disaster, owing not only to lack of supplies and sickness, but to attacks by local tribes and to the lengthl of the line of communications from France and from the Volga to India. It may be thought that our statesmen in India should have realized these facts. It must, however, be re- membered that preparations were actually made by Russia and that the scheme was upset only by the assassination of the Tsar, Moreover, the genius of Napoleon was so dazzling that no project seemed beyond his power of achievement, and consequently the sense of proportion was apt to be lost. Finally, the position of the British in India was none too strong, and the appearance of a Franco-Russian army in Persia would undoubtedly have reacted most unfavourably on the general situation, Malcolms First Mission, 1800. — The mission of Captain Malcolm was decided upon before the news of the success of Mehdi Ali Khan had reached Calcutta. His instructions were to induce the Shah of Persia to bring pressure on Zaman Shah; to counteract any possible designs of the French ; and to restore the prosperity of British and British Indian trade with Persia. The young Scotch officer, who held only a junior rank and might well have been looked down upon by Persians of high rank, was completely successful in his difficult task. He carefully studied the Persians, who were impressed by his strong personality ; he won favour by a generous and even lavish distribution of gifts ; and on arriving at Teheran he confirmed by his remarkable capacity the good report which had preceded him. Under these favourable conditions a political and com- mercial treaty was speedily negotiated between Malcolm and Haji Ibrahim, the Vizier. The Shah agreed to make no peace with the Amir of Afghanistan unless the latter renounced his designs on the British possessions in India. 1 From Astrabad to Herat is about six hundred and fifty miles, and from Herat to Kabul is another five hundred.